We like our trains here in Switzerland. They are clean, reliable, have connections that work and the timetable runs like clockwork. And the trains operate from early in the morning until late at night

With the recent news of the three millionth half-price card being issued in Switzerland and the card having the highest level of population penetration of any card in Europe, it seemed like a good time to take a deeper look at it, as well  other rail cards that are available.

The half price card

This does exactly what it says on the tin. It reduces the cost of the ticket you are buying by 50%. The price reduction does not vary whether it is on, or off-peak. The ticket functions across all train operators in Switzerland and also integrates trams, buses, boats and funicular railways with a few exceptions, making the ticket very convenient for all through travel.

Simply put: if your ticket would cost CHF 50.- at the standard tariff, with the half-price card, the price would be CHF 25. This is valid for both second and first class. As a general rule of thumb, first class usually costs  twice the price of second class. However it is worth keeping an eye out for special offers for first class tickets on designated trains which are accessible to half-price card holders.

Tickets for the transport of bicycles are also half-price with this rail card. The half price card can also get you reductions for bike rentals and even car rental. Additionally, the price to access events such as concerts, exhibitions museums, leisure facilities with Swiss rail’s partners can also be reduced with a rail ticket to the event.

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How much does it cost?

Presently, the half price card costs CHF 185.- for an adult for one year and CHF 165.- if you are extending it and CHF 120.- for a young person (16-25 years old) or correspondingly CHF 100.- for an extension.

Every now and again you can expect to see special offers for new customers, as well as for longer periods of time.

  • The return price from Geneva to Bern at the current time, is CHF 102.- in second class. With the half price card it would be CHF 51.50. This means that it would only take just over three trips per year to pay for the card.
  • It is easy to add on city transport to the price so that you can take trams, buses and trains within the city limits. The half price card reduces this cost but does not necessarily half it.


Can I have one if I live abroad ?

The simple answer here is “Yes”, if you travel to Switzerland for work or to visit family more than once a year then it is probably worth the investment. This is especially so, if you want or need to do some longer trips beyond an immediate airport area. If you have a holiday or a longer business trip a monthly half price card might be a good option.

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Where doesn’t it work ?

Regular commuters may not want – or need one, as local zonal prices are fixed and the half price card does not change that price. The fixed price is already lower than the same ticket with a half price card if purchased daily.

Depending on distance and number of zones you might be travelling, expect to see a monthly cost between CHF 70-150.- to give a basic idea.

In some parts of the country, the card is not valid on weekend night services and a fixed cost may be due or a standard ticket plus a fixed cost.

Finally, some ski-lifts, funicular railways and boats are not part of the network – but these are few and far between!



And if I travel a lot ?

In that case you might not need one of these cards at all, but go for the next one up – the General Abo!

Currently this costs CHF3’860 per year for second class travel for an adult. This is applicable for any means of transport and anywhere in the country except the minor exceptions as mentioned above. This is what you need if you are doing longer commutes and regular big cross country trips.

An example would be the commonly commuted route of Zurich to Bern. This trip costs CHF 51.- with a half price card. With twenty trips per month for four months the GA would have paid for itself.

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This is just a brief look at the most popular Swiss Rail Cards amongst an almost never ending list of Swiss rail travel subscriptions.  If you are coming to Switzerland soon to work, and are interested about traveling with the great Swiss travel network visit the platform and take a look about possibly getting one for yourself or find out what might be right for you!


Swissroll GmbH was founded over 20 years ago. During this time our team of experts has worked with hundreds of companies and literally thousands of contractors. Beyond our core function of payroll management, we offer advice to contractors coming to work in Switzerland for the first time. This includes advice on travel in Switzerland. Swissroll: “More than just payroll specialists”

Contact us now on: enquiries@swissroll.ch